JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (March 22, 2013) – The ETSU softball team hosts defending Atlantic Sun Tournament champion Florida Gulf Coast for three games this weekend at Betty Basler Field.
The series begins Saturday, as ETSU (8-16, 0-6 A-Sun) and FGCU (22-9, 3-0 A-Sun) play a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. The series finale is scheduled for Sunday at noon.
The Buccaneer Breakdown
Offensively, junior Jackie Baird (Ooltewah, Tenn.) holds ETSU’s highest average at .361 entering the weekend. Baird shares the team-lead in doubles (4) and home runs (3), while ranking second in RBIs with 15. The third baseman also has a team-high 11 walks and on-base percentage of .459.
However, for the first time in over a month it is not Baird who leads in slugging. Freshman Bethany Cowart (Ringgold, Ga.) has her slugging percentage up to .550 in 20 at-bats. Cowart earned her starting role after going 4-for-6 with a homer, two runs and two RBIs in last weekend’s series against Jacksonville and is the only Buccaneer to record a triple this season – Wednesday at Western Carolina. Her average stands at .250.
Redshirt sophomore Nicole Fox (Peachtree City, Ga.), senior Tara Hartnett (Snellville, Ga.), sophomore Casey Horner (Whitesburg, Tenn.) and junior Katie Wolff (LaGrange, Texas) continue to maintain above-.300 batting averages. Fox ranks second on the squad at .344 with a team-leading 21 hits, 13 runs and 10 stolen bases. Hartnett is in double-figure runs as well at 10 with a .338 average and six RBIs. Horner has driven in 18 runs to lead in that department while hitting .333 and Wolff is up to .325 with eight runs and nine driven in.
As a team, the Buccaneers are hitting .284 to rank No. 4 in the Atlantic Sun. ETSU averages 8.2 hits per game to rank second-best.
In the aftermath of her Wednesday shutout, Wolff (3-8) enters Saturday with a team-best 2.36 ERA through 71.1 innings pitched. Wolff has made 10 starts and tossed six complete games, striking out 36 and walking 31. Opponents are hitting .257 off the junior right-hander. Freshman Sam Harrell (Okeechobee, Fla.) sits at 4-6 on the season with a 3.88 ERA, striking out 35 and walking 33.
As a staff, ETSU holds a 3.61 ERA and will look to continue to cut down on its walks. The Bucs have allowed 3.6 per game, ranking last in the conference.
Last Time Out
ETSU got rid of a nine-game losing streak by splitting a doubleheader at Western Carolina on Wednesday, winning game one, 3-0, and falling in the latter, 8-1. Wolff highlighted the day, tossing a six-hit shutout in the opener to get the Bucs back on the winning track.
The Bucs took the early lead in game one. Three first-inning Western Carolina errors granted ETSU two runs and Cowart continued to impress with a triple to lead off the seventh. Cowart later came around to score and pad the ETSU lead, but it was more than enough for Wolff who completed her first shutout of the season and fourth of her Buccaneer career.
ETSU scraped out just four hits and struck out 10 times in the opener, but WCU committed five errors to help the Bucs to victory.
The Catamounts rebounded quickly in game two, jumping all over the Bucs for four runs in the first inning, including a three-run homer to left off the bat of Taylor Sigmon. That proved more than enough for the win as WCU starter Jordan Garrett went the distance, striking out nine and allowing just one run.
Fox had the best offensive day and was the only Buccaneer to earn a hit in each game, finishing 2-for-6 with two walks, a run and two stolen bases.
Scouting the Eagles
Florida Gulf Coast has won seven in a row, taking all seven at home in an nine-day span from March 13-21. Five of those wins came in one-run games and three games were decided in extra innings. The Eagles also began conference play during the stretch, sweeping Stetson by scores of 5-4, 5-3 (9) and 10-4. FGCU’s last loss was nearly two weeks ago at the Stanford Louisville Slugger Classic against Minnesota, 4-1.
Three All-Atlantic Sun First Team members from the 2012 season return for the Eagles, including A-Sun Pitcher of the Year, Shelby Morgan. Last season, Morgan posted a conference-best 1.55 ERA, but holds a 2.59 mark through 14 starts this year and a 10-5 record. Jaclyn Owen (6-3) is the No. 2 option with a 2.65 ERA and 43 strikeouts, but she has had some control issues by allowing 57 walks. Amanda Josie (6-1) holds the team-best 1.91 ERA and has tossed 55.0 innings, making seven starts.
Offensively, A-Sun Preseason Player of the Year, Chelsea Zgrabik, holds a team-best .356 batting average. Zgrabik also has team-highs in hits (31), doubles (9), home runs (10) and RBIs (42). Zgrabik’s 10 homers and 42 RBIs also lead the A-Sun. Jessica Barnes carries a .326 average to rank second on the team and has stolen a conference-best 15 bases. FGCU’s runs leader, Kelsey Carpenter, is hitting .304 and has scored 30 times.
The Eagles are hitting .270 as a team and score 5.3 runs per game.
The series has been completely one-sided, favoring FGCU, 10-0. Three of ETSU’s losses have come by one run, but last season the Eagles took a doubleheader in Johnson City by scores of 10-0 (5) and 8-2. Six of the 10 games have been played at Betty Basler Field.
Live stats for all three weekend games will be available through Stat Broadcast by logging onto ETSUBucs.com. ETSU’s latest partner in live statistics allows fans to access all the stats they need, keep up with the scores around the conference with a built-in scoreboard and even interact with the action. Fans who Tweet using the hashtags #ETSUsb or #BucYeah will have their Tweets shown at the bottom interface and will be able to interact with @ETSUSoftball and @ETSUAthletics.
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